E 329K • The Early Romantic Period, 1780-1815
2:00 PM-3:00 PM
If "Romantic" names a timeless style and affect, it also names a quite specific period of British literary history: the extraordinary blossoming of poetry and prose that took place amidst the upheavals of the Age of Revolution. In this course we will read the seminal texts of early British Romanticism, poems by Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Blake foremost among them, together with influential treatises by thinkers such as Burke and Wollstonecraft, and with other literary and philosophical works that, although they may not fit comfortably under the description "Romantic," were no less integral to the tenor of the times (poems by Crabbe and Hemans, national tales and novels by Scott, Austen, Godwin, and Owenson).
Questions to be addressed include: What puts the "Romance" in Romanticism? What seems particularly remarkable about how these texts represent or evoke emotion, sentiment, or feeling? What does it mean for a style to seem the spirit of an age? How did the literary traditions and innovations of this particular epoch relate to its public events, such as the French Revolution, renewed British overseas imperialism, and the emergence of the industrial economy and a mass society? How did aesthetic forms change as the practice of literature changed, with new sorts of authors writing for new audiences for new reasons?
Three six-page papers 60%
Attendance, participation, grades on occasional quizzes and a final exam 40%
Austen, Sense and Sensibility
Godwin, Caleb Williams
Radcliffe, The Romance of the Forest
Scott, The Lay of the Last Minstrel
Wolfson and Manning, eds., The Romantics & Their Contemporaries
(Volume 2a of the The Longman Anthology of British Literature)
(A small supplemental photocopy packet will be distributed in class.)